On Tuesday’s most remarkable upset, Rafael Nadal was bounced out of the Australian Open at the Rod Laver Arena, usually regarded as the graveyard of champions. The celebrated Spaniard was facing someone, whom he had beaten in 17 previous meetings but the 18th proved to be his undoing against the seasoned Tomas Berdych. The Czech brought off a spectacular display of power tennis against Nadal and except the third set tie-break, didn’t have any problems in his straight sets victory over the world no.3. Berdych is the only player among men’s singles competitors, who has not lost a single set in the tournament so far. The other semifinal berth for men went to Scotsman Andy Murray, who came up with another masterly performance to beat the local hope Nick Kyrgios also in straight sets. Among women, two Russians entered the semifinal and that ensured that women’s singles final this year will have at least one Russian woman. Maria Sharapova was superb in her quarterfinal match against the talented Eugenie Bouchard and demolished the Canadian in straight sets. Her compatriot Ekatarina Makarova also played inspired tennis to see off the no.3 seed Simona Halep of Romania.
Tomas Berdych played like a champion. The Czech, who is yet to drop a set in this year’s competition, snapped a long losing streak against Rafael Nadal. It was power tennis at its best that didn’t have any answer from the men’s no.3 seed as Berdych hit where he wanted. Nadal looked sluggish against Berdych, who broke the rhythm of the Spaniard with his serve and volley game. The consistency of the Czech rushed Nadal into making errors, he normally would not commit. Berdych pounded 10 aces and produced some thunderous strokes from baseline. The Czech converted 5 out of 10 break points against the subdued Nadal. After the complete wash-out in the first two sets, Nadal waged a valiant battle in the third set tie-break to keep his hopes alive. After being 1-5 down in the tie-break, Nadal fought back to put up a challenge. However, Berdych made no mistake with his first match point as he produced a great service down the T to take the match 6-2, 6-0, 7-6.
In the other quarterfinal, Murray kept Nick Kyrgios at bay with an outstanding performance. The Australian teenager did well at times but Murray had all the aces with him. After his last match with Andreas Seppi, the confident Kyrgios began well and took the first two points on Murray’s serve in the opening game. But the Scot is too experienced to falter as he held his serve and opened a 4-2 lead. Kyrgios won one more service game but that was all for him as Murray took the first set 6-3. The second set went to 5-5 and when Kyrgios ended a long rally with a drop shot, it was tie-break time. Kyrgios led 4-3 but an amazing lob from Murray made it 4-4. Four points later, the Scot produced another lob to win the set. In the third set, as Murray led 4-2, Kyrgios forced a break point and won it. But Murray got a break of his own immediately and finished the match 6-3, 7-6, 6-3.
In the women’s singles quarterfinal, two of the most beautiful women in the tennis circuit faced each other. But looks aside, the women have tennis in their blood. They don’t want to lose. On Tuesday, however, Eugenie Bouchard played second fiddle to Maria Sharapova as the Russian powered her way to an easy 6-3, 6-2 victory. Bouchard had a slow start and she committed an unusually high 30 unforced errors and that was a way too much for a ruthless and unrelenting Sharapova. For the place in the final, Sharapova will play compatriot Ekaterina Makarova, who comprehensively outplayed the no.3 seed Romanian Simona Halep. The Romanian was off-color and committed 31 unforced errors. This allowed the Russian enormous advantage against her. Makarova doesn’t have a great serve but she makes that up with a fine all-court game. She attacked Halep from the baseline and beyond and consistently produced flat left-handed shots, which were far from attractive but extremely effective nonetheless. The Russian finished the match 6-4, 6-0 in 69 minutes. Against Sharapova, however, she has to do much better.
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